Sprinkle of Inspiration

The Lost Art of Customer Service

The lack of good customer service I’ve been observing for quite some time was my motivation in writing this post. And I’ve been observing pre-COVID. It has been crazy and it seems like it’s getting worse.😡

Maybe the online world has had such a great impact that we are losing how it is to provide good customer service on a person-to-person level. And, yes, sometimes virtually or over the phone, too.

When I had a brick-and-mortar business, I was clueless about a lot of things, but one thing I made sure of…that everyone who walked through our doors experienced exceptional customer service. 🤩

I may be a business that provides a service but I am also a customer. As a customer, I would like to walk into a business where I choose to spend my money and hope to receive great customer service. I don’t need a red carpet, just courteous, common sense customer service.

Let me share…

One day, I walk into a very well-known jewelry store chain. I was so excited to buy a piece of jewelry that I’ve had my heart on for a while and my hubby wanted to get it for me. We walk into the store which was located in a pretty popular mall. We see a huddle of employees carrying on a conversation. They saw that we walked in, they continue with whatever it was they were talking about. We are standing there waiting to spend some money. Mind you, we were the only customers in the store at that moment. There were about five employees.

After about 5 minutes when they decided to first finish their conversation with each other, one approached and asked what can she help us with. Five minutes may not seem long, but it is when you walk into a business and you are the only customer and there are five employees behind the counter. Judging by their gestures I can assume it wasn’t a serious conversation when they are smiling and laughing. Even it was a serious issue they were trying to resolve, first, it should be behind doors secondly, it only takes 2 seconds to greet a customer.

The experience at the jewelry store wouldn’t have been part of this post if only one of the employees would have turned and at least say “Hello, we will be with you in a moment.” It’s that simple! 🤨

A major establishment that has several locations, like franchises or chain stores, may be harder to monitor good customer service. However, when you are a small business, you need to be cautious.

That comes down to management. Managers or business owners should be attentive to their staff, making sure employees are giving excellent customer service. Sometimes a business may not be doing well and may think it is due to other reasons and they just need to brush up on their service skills. 

It is also understandable that not everyone is good at customer service, while others may be excellent naturally. But can someone learn to be great at it? Absolutely. 

Businesses should keep in mind that without customers, they will not be in business. Some businesses have reached great success and may not care to give careful attention to their customer service. They should be careful. Things can change in a split second. Just look at what hit us in 2020! Good customer service and relationships will have a better chance of their continued support even when unforeseen circumstances happen.

Okay, let me continue with a few more examples:

I walked into this fast-food chain. It hasn’t happened only once but almost every time I go. And I have been going for the past five years! Why? Because it is like 2 minutes away. 😆

I’m standing in front of the register waiting for someone to take my order. There are around seven workers including the manager behind the counter. They ALL see me and other customers standing there waiting and not one of them took the time to at least say, “I’ll be right with you.” NADA, SILCH! And as simple as that statement sounds, it is very effective because the customer knows they will be helped soon. A customer should always feel welcomed or at least acknowledged. However, since it is a very well-known fast-food restaurant, you are not surprised or expect anything better. But, wait… it should never matter what kind of business you are or walking into; a large fast-food chain, a small restaurant, or a higher-end establishment.

Another example. I go to a small business to make a very major purchase. The salesperson is awesome, knows her stuff. Everything sounded great! It was exciting! We make the sale. Then, what happens….OVER PROMISE and UNDER DELIVER.

A business should exercise “UNDER promise, OVER deliver.” I’m sure you’ve heard that term at some time or another. I heard this statement at a seminar when I was a teenager (and that was a very long time ago😆). It was such a simple statement that it really stuck to me. 

Let me continue with the story of the “major purchase”. That major purchase was supposed to be delivered on a certain date first thing in the morning. I rearranged my schedule to receive my purchase. The day kept progressing and nothing. I called, no answer. I emailed, no reply. I texted, no response. Finally, later in the day, I get a text that they are backed up but they will be making the delivery soon. Okay!

Time passed and now it is early evening and nothing. No communication, no status! Now my frustration escalates. Again, lack of communication. If I would have gotten an update or status, I would have not been totally happy, but I would have been appreciative of the information and not be in expectancy! At the end of the day, the delivery did not happen 🤦🏻‍♀️. It was delivered the next day!

The frustrating part is the selling part of the deal was great. It was a great conversation. She seemed trustworthy. Even though the business didn’t really have any reviews I didn’t care because I was interested in the product which was actually a piece of equipment. The level of excitement presented during the sale should continue to carry out until delivery. Even though I purchased a great item, I would not recommend them to anyone to avoid them experiencing the same thing.

We live in an imperfect world. But that should never be our excuse of not trying to make our world around us better. If we would focus more on people and not only what is in it for me, it would make a greater impact.

Unfortunately, as time passes by, it seems we become more and more disconnected beings. I believe one of the reasons it has become harder to deal with people is because  we have allowed technology to isolate our minds. It contributes to our lack in people skills. And that isn’t anyone else’s doing, but ours. Technology is a wonderful thing, but it should never take the place of have real interaction with people on a regular basis.

Take email as an example. People have more courage to write an email and write more boldly and maybe even honestly or even rudely than they would if they had to tell the individually the same thing in person. The same goes when writing a text.

Back on topic…

I am not a professional expert in this topic. But I don’t need to be. I am a business and also a customer. It isn’t rocket science, it is common sense.

We all deserve good customer service and if we are a business, we are to give good customer service!

The Apple Store!

Let me tell you about the Apple Store. I am sharing my real experience. I am in no way in a partnership or affiliated or receiving anything for this (just wanted to throw that out there). I have visited the Apple Store in three different states. What has been my experience? Great customer service EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. all across those states. I do not know how they do it, but it has been consistent.

Publix Supermarket!

I have a few near me. Every time I visit, if I go past an employee through an aisle, they will greet me. At the register, the cashier will always ask, “Did you find everything you were looking for?” Just, good ole’ courtesy!

CVS!

You go through their doors focused on what you need or maybe in deep thought cause you don’t want to forget what you came for and as soon as you walk in, the cashier yells out, “Hello, welcome!” You immediately snap out of whatever was on your mind and return the greeting hoping they can hear you through your mask, ha!😷

And there are other large as well as small businesses that are just friendly and provide great customer service. I focused on three known establishments because large companies are more prone to lose that art than a medium or smaller business. And for them to be so large and keep customer service as one of their priorities is pretty impressive.

In conclusion…

I hope you have an excellent experience where ever it is you enjoy shopping, dining, etc., or supporting. And if you are a business, whether a billion-dollar company, or a small business, or a home-based one, I wish you great success and hope you are providing good customer service. Whether someone is spending millions of dollars or one dollar, customers should be treated with respect because they are willing to pay for what you can provide.

Here are some good basic business practices:

  • Be sure your staff is on the same page of what your business stands for.
  • Employees should be held accountable for what they are responsible for.
  • If you have managers, there is a chain of command and employees should be aware of protocol.
  • Acknowledge the customer with a short friendly greeting.
  • Do not be overbearing, but with your greeting make them feel you are there if they need any help.
  • Customers may not always be right, but when there is an issue it should be handled in a professional matter.
  • Listen to the customer attentively before responding.
  • Repeat to them what they told you and then offer the best way to help them. That way they see you are paying attention to their issue.
  • If you are unable to help the customer, you should direct them to someone that can. 
  • Be honest even if it’s not what the customer wants to hear. It is better they know upfront than being disappointed later because you couldn’t keep your word.
  • Be consistent. The same way you treated them to earn their trust and business, should continue even after the sale.
  • Keep customers informed as soon there is a change with an order they may be waiting for.
  • If you are a customer service employee, exercise your skills as if it was your business. You never know if one day you are the owner and you would like to have good employees working for you.
  • And smile, it may be the only one they might see that day. 😊

We can’t change the world, but we could make a difference right where we are!

Just sayin’!

Xo

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